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Tips for First-Time Tourists

Or for Those Wanting to Enrich their Next Trip

Traveling to a new city is exciting. You get out of your comfort zone, experience new foods, places, cultures, and people, and come back with lots of memories. Yet traveling can also bring unwanted frustration. This is easily avoidable with a little extra care-so, from one traveler to another, here are a few steps you should consider taking for your next big trip. 

Don't plan out every day ahead of time.

Researching what might interest you during your visit is key to a successful trip. However, planning out every day beforehand can take away from your time once you're there. People get sick or tired, it starts to rain, and trains are late. These are all part of travelling, and are bound to interfere with the strict schedule you've made for yourself. 

Instead, I would recommend making a list of the places you'd like to visit, from which you can choose your itinerary each day depending on how things go. Instead of seeing the weather, jet lag, a moody child or other potential setbacks as irritants, take advantage of what you've got! Do some more low-key or nearby activities that day, and save the bigger day-trip for the following day. You'll sometimes also want to re-visit a certain exciting spot, or end up receiving a recommendation on location. 

On a similar note, don't try to see everything in the tour guide! This is especially important for big cities. Choose your top spots, and take your time to enjoy them, otherwise you'll find yourself running around and spending more time in transport than discovering amazing new places.

If you rely on a list, rather than a tight schedule, I can guarantee that your trip will bring you more joy and fulfillment than stress!   

Plan out your food.

We get more tired than usual when we're spending the day walking around, and a new environment can be a lot more taxing than one might expect. The best thing to do is grab some snacks on your first day there, and take enough with you to keep a smile on your face every time you go out. Apples, bananas, and granola bars can go a long way to bringing your trip from a six to a 10 out of 10! Water is also incredibly important, so stay hydrated!  

Taking a look at some good spots to grab a meal ahead of time is also a great idea. We often assume that we'll stumble across the perfect spot to eat along the way, but I can't tell you how many times this expectation fails travelers. I would suggest downloading the Yelp app onto your device, and, before visiting a new area, getting inspired by the options you find there. 

This isn't to say you shouldn't choose to eat at the great restaurant you find along the way! It's simply that having a plan B is always a good idea when traveling, and it saves your from the hangry bug. 

Communication

Communication can be tricky when you visit a new place. Although you can find English in most hotels and tourist spots today, it's always best not to assume that the person you're interacting with speaks it. People are always more eager to help if you make a little effort to address them in their language. Learning the basic "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you" can go a very long way! 

I would suggest getting the Google Translate App before you leave. You can download your native language and the one(s) of the place you're visiting, allowing you to find all the words you might need without wifi/data.   

Tips are also a form of communication, as the tip you leave reflects your service experience. However, tipping can be very different depending on the country you find yourself in. For example, in France, the tip is included in the total on you bill-but it's polite to leave a little something anyways. In Turkey,  tips are only accepted in cash, and in Brazil, tipping in dollars can be considered rude. It's worth quickly googling such customs before you head out to a restaurant or cafe! 

Spend a day as a local.

I always suggest to people that they keep an extra day free in their itinerary to spend the day as a local. Take a day off from the touristy areas, and spend some time walking around parks, beaches and small neighborhoods unoccupied by other tourists. Ask your Airbnb host or a hotel manager for some tips on what the citizens of the city do on their days off. Is there a good street market to get lunch from? Some local bookstores, galleries, or trails to explore? Where do people go for dinner? Just walk around and see what you find! This is always a good opportunity to see the place you're visiting from another perspective, and it can be a nice break from visiting all those sites. 

Enjoy Your Trip!

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